Telluride Theatre: Hooper directs “Twelfth Night”

Telluride Theatre: Hooper directs “Twelfth Night”

shakesPatron’s Night  is Tuesday, July 23, Town Park Stage. Wine, beer and cocktail reception at 7 p.m. features food by Butcher & Baker. Show at 8 p.m. 

In the absence of credible evidence to the contrary despite much ado, Shakespeare must be viewed as the author of the 37 plays and 154 sonnets that bear his name. The legacy of this body of work is far-reaching: in most cases, the Bard seems to have transcended mere brilliance to become so influential as to profoundly affect the course of Western literature and culture that followed in his footsteps, eating his dust.

Shakespeare wrote most of his greatest plays during the first decade of his company’s occupation of The Globe theatre, 1599 – 1608, roughly mid-career. These include the major tragedies such as “Julius Caesar,” “Hamlet,” “MacBeth,” “King Lear” and the darker comedies  such as “All’s Well That Ends Well,” “Measure for Measure” – and “Twelfth Night,” likely penned in 1601-02 as entertainment for the close of the Christmas season. The play expanded on the madness and mayhem expected of the occasion.

Telluride Theatre continues a a 22-year tradition that began with the Telluride REP (the companies merged), offering Shakespeare in the Park. There is nothing quite like the spectacular setting of Telluride’s Town Park. The opportunity to see the play on the same stage as the actors who are performing it, brings the audience into the action. “Twelfth Night” is this year’s featured production.

“Twelfth Night” runs from Saturday, July 20 – Saturday, July 27. (But no show  Wednesday, July 24.) Nightly pre-show music by various local musicians begins at 7:30 p.m. Show time is 8 p.m.

Telluride Theatre’s “Twelfth Night” features Alessandra Casanova, Annie Tadvick, Ashley Boling, Bria Light, Camille Denman, Emily Koren, Evan Macmillan, James Van Hooser, Juliet Denman, Mike Harold, Peter Chadman, Peter Lundeen, Simon Perkovich, and Zachary Davis. Dramaturgy by Katie Parnello, Jackie Distefano, Devin McCarthy. Set design by Scott Harris. Lighting by Marc Froelich. Costume design by Luci Reeves and Angela Watkins. The multi-talented Buff Hooper (he is also a popular local actor and set designer) directs.

“Twelfth Night” is one of Shakespeare’s “transvestite comedies,” a category that also includes “As You Like It” and “The Merchant of Venice.” Those plays famously feature female protagonists who, for one reason or another, have to disguise themselves as young men. It is important to remember that in Shakespeare’s day, all of the parts were played by men, so Viola would actually have been a male pretending to be a female pretending to be a male. (Contemporary critics have found a great deal of interest in the homoerotic implications.)

“Twelfth Night” is about illusion, deception, disguises, madness, and the extraordinary things that love will cause us to do—and to see. In digestible sound bytes, the story revolves around a girl who disguises herself as a man to be near the count who has won her heart, only to be pursued by the woman the count loves.

But there is nothing completely new under the sun and even Shakespeare is no exception: the complex plot of “Twelfth Night” is derived from other sources (as is the case with many, if not most, of the Bard’s plays).

For “Twelfth Night,” Shakespeare seems to have consulted an Italian play from the 1530s entitled “Gl’Ingannati,” which features twins who are mistaken for each other and contains a version of the Viola-Olivia-Orsino love triangle. He also seems to have used a 1581 English story entitled “Apollonius and Silla,” by Barnabe Riche, which mirrors the plot of “Twelfth Night” up to a point, with a shipwreck, a pair of twins, and a woman disguised as a man. A number of sources have been suggested for the Malvolio subplot, but none of them proved to be very convincing. Sir Toby, Maria, and the luckless steward seem to have sprung largely from the Bard’s fertile imagination.

Suitable for all ages.

Tickets available Or call, 970-708-3934.

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